While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 9

Boris Johnson imposes Covid-19 ‘Plan B’ to contain Omicron

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson imposed tougher Covid-19 restrictions in England on Wednesday, ordering people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes in a bid to slow the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Undermined by accusations that his staff partied at Downing Street during a Christmas lockdown last year, Johnson said Omicron was spreading rapidly and he had no choice but to move to “Plan B” to buy time and get more booster shots into arms.

While still a long way from the full lockdowns that hammered the economy earlier in the pandemic, the new measures could cut visitors to restaurants, cafes and shops in city centres in the run up to Christmas and deal a fresh blow to Britain’s finances.

“While the picture may get better, and I sincerely hope that it will, we know that the remorseless logic of exponential growth could lead to a big rise in hospitalisations and therefore, sadly, in deaths,” Johnson told a news conference.

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Biden says US troops on ground in Ukraine is ‘not on the table’


PHOTO: EPA-EFE

US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday putting American troops on the ground in Ukraine to deter a potential Russian invasion was “not on the table” and he hoped to announce a meeting with Russia and other Nato countries by Friday.

Biden said there would be high-level meetings with Russia and at least four major Nato allies to “discuss the future of Russia’s concerns relative to Nato writ large” and whether or not accommodations could be worked out as it related to “bringing down the temperature along the eastern front.”

Speaking to reporters as he left the White House, Biden said he had made it clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin during his nearly two-hour virtual meeting on Tuesday that there would be economic consequences like none before if Russia invades Ukraine.

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Japanese billionaire arrives at space station


PHOTO: TWITTER/ROSCOSMOS

A Japanese billionaire arrived at the International Space Station on Wednesday, marking Russia’s return to space tourism after a decade-long pause that saw the rise of competition from the United States.

Online fashion tycoon Yusaku Maezawa and his assistant Yozo Hirano blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan earlier on Wednesday.

Their journey aboard the three-person Soyuz spacecraft piloted by Misurkin took just over six hours, capping a banner year that many have seen as a turning point for private space travel.

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US boss apologises after laying off 900 employees over Zoom

A chief executive officer who last week laid off 900 employees in a single Zoom call has apologised after he attracted sharp criticism when the video was posted on social media.

Vishal Garg, head of online mortgage originator Better.com, convened employees over the video streaming platform and told them “if you are on this call, you are part of the unlucky group being laid off,” according to a video posted online.

“Your employment here is terminated, effective immediately.”

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Woods to make comeback from injury at PNC Championship


PHOTO: AFP

Tiger Woods said on Wednesday he will make his return to competitive golf at next week’s PNC Championship in Florida.

The former world number one, who has not played since suffering career-threatening leg injuries in a car crash 10 months ago, will play in the December 16-19 tournament alongside his son Charlie.

“Although it’s been a long and challenging year, I am very excited to close it out by competing in the PNC Championship with my son Charlie,” Woods announced on Twitter.

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